Early Christian pilgrim flask with St. Menas

Object number
Object: Ampulla (flask)

Material: Red clay

Period: late 5th century–mid 7th century A.D.
Abu Mena, Egypt

Description:    Flat bottle with circular body, short neck and two handles which were used by the pilgrims as loops for a string, to suspend the flask around one's neck.
One side shows Saint Menas as Orans en face, riding a horse, a palm frond before. On the opposite side, inscription "EYΛ | OΓIA" (="Eulogia", i.e. blessing) within a double raised border, divided by two raised lines.

Dimensions: Height 90 mm, width 70 mm

Condition: One handle and small part of neck missing, otherwise very well preserved. The relief showing Saint Menas is preserved much better than shown by the picture.

Reference: For the diverse variants of these very popular flask,, see e.g. D.M. Bailey, Catalogue of Terracottas in the British Museum IV: Ptolemaic and Roman Terracottas from Egypt (British Museum, 2008), pp. 115-124, Pl. 74-88

Provenance: Acquired 2018 in a US auction house. Ex private collection Stanley Lowell, in this from private collection Walter J. Dilling, acquired in the early 1900s.
Walter J. Dilling was a pharmacologist and professor at the University of Liverpool. His work and passion for collecting antiquities are reflected in a curious way in a hand written note accompanying and describing this flask and stating Alexandria as the place where it was found or acquired. For this note, the professor used a package insert for "Milk of Magnesia 'brand Tablets", as can be read on the reverse side of the small paper sheet.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.